Baubles. Tinsel. Snow.
Turkeys. Reindeer. Last-minute shopping on Amazon Prime.
Except, if you're reading this, you're probably more into the real meaning of Christmas, aren't you?
Jesus. Mary. Joseph.
Shepherds. Angels. Magi.
Magi? What are they?
Well, if you're into romantic fiction (which I'm not), I imagine the Magi are just the kind of people for you.
Mysterious strangers, from far-off lands. Matthew describes them, in the second chapter of his gospel (Matthew 2:1-12). Why not read that before you carry on here?
Whether we're fans of Christian romance or not, we should certainly find these mysterious Magi fascinating.
Why? Not just because of the intrigue of the unusual. But because of what Matthew tells us they do.
See, the chief priests and teachers of the law. The ones who knew the Scriptures which spoke about Jesus. They should have been the ones worshipping Jesus.
But they didn't. They ignored him.
And King Herod, he should have come to pay homage to the true King of Israel, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
But he didn't. Instead, in his insecure grasping after power at all costs, he was intent on regicide, and infanticide.
These strange men. From a pagan nation. Outside of the covenant people of God. They seek out the one who had been born king of the Jews.
They go to him.
And they worship him.
So, this Christmas, here's two things to think about and act on.
First, make sure you're not like the Scribes and Pharisees, who ignore Jesus. Don't get so excited about presents, so anxious about visits from wider family, or EVEN so concerned that you invite a nonchristian neighbour to a Christmas service, that you forget to spend time delighting.
Delighting in who Jesus is. The promised son of Abraham and David. The eternal son of God.
And delighting in what Jesus has done. To quote the Nicene Creed:
For us men and for our salvation
He came down from heaven
By the power of the Holy Spirit
He was born of the Virgin Mary
And became man
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered, died, and was buried
On the third day he rose again
In accordance with the Scriptures
He ascended into heaven
And is seated at the right hand of the Father
For US (people), he became a man.
For OUR SAKE he was put to death on the cross. (By the way, for eighteen years, I considered myself a Christian, but had no real understanding of the importance of Jesus' death on the cross. If that's where you're at, let me encourage you to watch this video. I'm sure you'll find it very helpful) https://www.solas-cpc.org/shortanswers32/
And for we who know who Jesus is, and what he has done. What a great price he paid, to bring us into his family. To forgive us. To give us fullness of life now and forever. Shouldn't that make us want to worship him, even when we discover the turkey won't fit in the oven, and the dog's eaten all the pigs in blankets?
So, take time this Christmas to delight in Jesus. To worship Jesus.
Because nobody should ever put this baby in the corner.
And here's the second thing to think about and act on.
God brings people who we wouldn't expect, to worship Jesus. He brought men from outside of the nation of Israel. Non-Jews. Utter pagans. But they came. And they worshipped.
And if you live in the UK, or much of the global west, that's incredibly good news, isn't it?
Because the percentage of people with a church background is shrinking in this country.
But people brought up in the church aren't the only people God brings to worship Jesus Christ, are they? Pagans. Magi. People of every religion, and no religion.
THESE are also the kinds of people God brings to worship his Son.
So, go ahead. Invite that agnostic neighbour to church.
Ring that religiously-disinterested brother on Christmas day, and tell him what you did in the morning, and (briefly!) what the minister spoke about.
Pray for the opportunity and boldness to ask that colleague from another country whether they celebrate Christmas, and what they think about it all.
Because who knows? God might bring them to worship Jesus.
Carey Baptist Church, Reading